THE SWANS OF FIFTH AVENUE by Melanie Benjamin: A Review

This is an engrossing novel based on a true relationship, that of Truman Capote and the matrons of New York society during the 50s and 60s.  It deals with Capote’s greatest scandal among the “beautiful people” who adopted him as their “pet”, protege, and latest fad. Capote brought glitz and glamor wherever he went, as did the fifth avenue circle, his “Swans.”  When Truman courted these glamorous women, specifically Babe Paley, a unique fashionista and trend setter ,the wife of CBS magnate, Bill Paley, he was the talk of the town. He was constantly found among this group of friends, inspiring them to confide their most private secrets to him. Although their relationship was purely platonic, Babe considered Truman her “True Heart” and Truman received the unconditional love and praise he had been refused by his mother and had never found from another person.

It was said about Capote, however, “…once a storyteller, always a storyteller–even when the stories aren’t his to tell,” and since the fame and praise from writing In Cold Blood dried up and the well of sources for stories ran dry,  he wrote a scandalous “tell all” story which betrayed all his “Swans” had confided in him. Truman’s fall from “sought after” to “shunned” is chronicled in this novel, and his life’s end was as sordid and sad as it had been beautiful and happy when he was the favorite of his “Swans.”

This book, a 2016 publication was a New York Times bestseller and was not only popular in New York where the names were known and the settings familiar, but with all of us readers who wanted a peek at the lives of the rich and famous.


Author: Rae Longest

This year marks my fiftieth year in AAUW (American Association of University Women). The Alvin chapter was begun in 1947, and as a new, green teacher to Alvin Independent School District, I joined in 1968. In the 80's we began a book group to share our love of reading, books,and fellowship with other women and girls who loved the same. We resurrected the group on-line in September of 2015. Eventually Powerful Women Readers folded as an on-line book club, but I kept the title and turned it into a blog. (See "Introduction,"first blog). This is my first experience at blogging or publishing anything and is becomes more fun with each blog posted. I am currently teaching as an adjunct at The University of Houston Clear Lake. This makes my 28th year there after three years at Alvin Community College and an almost-twenty year career as a classroom teacher with Alvin Independent School District. Reading and writing are "in my blood" just like teaching is. I hope you enjoy the blog.

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